Heart Health

More Evidence that Salt Restriction is Bogus

Dateline: August 2011 Some years ago (perhaps as many as ten), I wrote an article commenting on the research concerning the effect of salt restriction on heart attack patients. At that time, it was discovered that patients with the lowest concentration of sodium had the highest morbidity (illness) and mortality (death) after heart attacks.

Now, new research confirms these findings and calls into question the wisdom of restricting salt intake in people with heart disease or high blood pressure. The first article, from WebMD points out that salt restriction only produces a small decline in blood pressure. The article then goes on to justify salt restriction in the diet.

However, other studies are more definitive on this topic. As reported in Science Daily in 2005, low serum sodium is a major predictor of poor outcomes for heart failure patients. In fact, the findings showed that patients with low serum sodium had double the death rate 60 days after discharge from the hospital.

An article in the Daily Mail in May of this year, reporting on a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, pointed out that higher than average salt intake did not increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, and that, in fact, those with less salt in their diets actually had higher death rates from heart disease.

However, I still find that medical practitioners are still routinely restricting salt intake, despite the plethora of evidence that it is most likely counterproductive. It takes a long time to change the establishment’s viewpoint.

What can you do for yourself and your family? First of all, don’t use table salt -- or Hain sea salt, for that matter; it’s been bought out by Morton and is no longer a healthful product. It contains dextrose.

Obtain a high quality, natural salt from your local health food store. Brands include: Real Salt, Celtic Sea Salt, etc. Any salt that clumps in the shaker and comes either from rock deposits or evaporated seawater is a good choice. Use freely on your food, especially in hot weather here in Southern California. When I was younger, I remember salt tablets being handed out to men working outside in the heat, to replenish their sodium levels.

Sodium is essential for proper nerve function, as well as necessary for the maintenance of proper blood concentration; and, under conditions of high stress, the kidneys excrete the sodium they would ordinarily salvage from the urine. This is especially true for people with adrenal dysfunction.

Symptoms of adrenal dysfunction include:

  • Dizziness upon arising
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Exhaustion and easy fatigability
  • Racing thoughts when lying down to rest; then, upon arising being too tired to do anything
  • Poor sleep patterns
  • Poor immune function, characterized by frequent upper respiratory infections

If you think you may have inadequate adrenal function, please call the office for a consultation. A quick in-office, specialized blood pressure test (Ragland’s Postural Blood Pressure Test) and an electrolyte panel (which is an inexpensive blood draw) can diagnose the problem. In more severe cases, a 24-hour saliva panel will help to give more information that can be used to normalize your diurnal cortisol cycle and get you back on the road to health.

Do you need an examination? If so, see our information on Consultations.